A study from the University of Exeter shows that 67% of the sharks examined contained microplastics and other man-made fiber in their digestive system. The researchers examined 46 demersal sharks and found a total of 379 particles.

Though the impact of these particles on the sharks’ health is unknown, Kristian Parton, lead author of the study, said the findings highlighted “the ubiquitous nature of plastic pollution.”

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“We were shocked that the overwhelming majority (95%) of contaminants identified were microfibres from fishing lines and nets for example, or synthetic cellulose that’s used to make viscose, rayon, and disposable facemasks,” he said.

Source: Jake Davies

Scientists have estimated anywhere between 4.8 to 12.7 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean every year. Microplastics are often ingested by marine species, eventually working their way into humans’ food supply. Microfibers, like those the University of Exeter study, can also absorb harmful pollutants like pesticides, dyes, and flame retardants, later releasing them in the ocean.

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Will McCallum, head of Oceans for Greenpeace UK, responded to the study, “Our addiction to plastics combined with the lack of mechanisms to protect our oceans is suffocating marine life. Sharks sit on top of the marine food web and play a vital role in ocean ecosystems. Yet, they are completely exposed to pollutants and other human impactful activities. We need to stop producing so much plastic and create a network of ocean sanctuaries to give wildlife space to recover. The ocean is not our dump, marine life deserves better than plastic.”

There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter, and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners, using mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, and avoiding microbeads!

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Read more recent news about plastic waste, including birds ingesting plastic waste, squirrels building nests with plastic, and the excess of plastic waste caused by the coronavirus.

Sign this petition to Join the Fight Against Plastic Pollution!

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